Behind The Scenes

Category Archives: Collections

Revolutionary Indecision: Brooklyn during the American Revolution

Did you know that some Brooklynites fought for both sides during the American Revolution? When revolutionary rhetoric adopted an anti-slavery tone, Kings County residents renounced the “Glorious Cause” and sided the British in hopes of preserving their forced labor system. This week New-York Historical’s Bernard and Irene Schwartz Fellow Chris Minty is our guest blogger. In his […]

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Unpublished Jupiter Hammon Poem Discovered at N-YHS

April is National Poetry Month, so what better time to share our exciting news! Independent Scholar Claire Bellerjeau made a miraculous discovery in the New-York Historical Society’s collections; she uncovered an unpublished poem likely written by Jupiter Hammon, the first published African American author in America. Hammon, who lived his entire life as an enslaved […]

Meet Audubon’s Assistant Painter: Maria Martin Bachman

Currently on display at New-York Historical is the final installment of the three-year series featuring all of John James Audubon’s original watercolor models for The Birds of America. Because of their fragility, this is your last chance to catch these stunning works. So don’t miss out—come see Audubon’s Aviary: The Final Flight and perch with […]

Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls

To celebrate the opening of our newest special installation Nature Illuminated: A Tiffany Gallery Preview, the exhibition’s curator who is also the Curator of Decorative Arts here at New-York Historical, Margaret K. Hofer, has signed on as this week’s guest blogger. Her post continues this month’s theme of New York women’s history and illuminates the […]

A Look at Harlem’s History of Protest

In today’s installment of our Black History Month celebration, we’ll be exploring Harlem. The first wave of African Americans landed in Harlem after World War I, when hundreds of thousands left the Jim Crow South in search of safety and opportunity. In 1914, only 50,000 blacks lived in Harlem, but by 1930, almost 205,000 had moved to […]

Sly Santas and Toy Trains: Two Centuries of Holiday Celebrations at New-York Historical

Despite busy schedules, throngs of tourists and cold temperatures, you would be hard-pressed to find a New Yorker who doesn’t find joy in holiday traditions. How would we know it was December without the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, store windows on Fifth Avenue, street vendors selling chestnuts, and nostalgic subway trains and toy train exhibitions? Thousands have already […]

1915: Women March For Suffrage in New York City

On October 23, 1915, over 25,000 women marched up Fifth Avenue in New York City to advocate for women’s suffrage. At that point, the fight had been ongoing for more than 65 years, with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 first passing a resolution in favor of women’s suffrage. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t find success for another […]

What The General Slocum Victims Wore

This may look like an ordinary child’s shoe, but it has a much darker history. The above shoe belonged to the then nearly six year old Helen Liebenow as a baby, sister of the donor, Adella Liebenow Wotherspoon. Wotherspoon was the last survivor of the General Slocum steamer disaster. On June 15, 1904, fire broke out […]

What New York Slang Did We Get From The Dutch?

Today is the anniversary of the colony of New Amsterdam officially becoming New York, when the Dutch ceded control to the British. But Dutch influence on New York, and on America, is longstanding–Dutch values of tolerance and freedom of religion are things Americans hold dear (in 1597 The Netherlands established “no one shall be persecuted or […]

When Edison Lit Up Manhattan

On September 4, 1882, the electrical age began. That day, Thomas Edison’s Edison Illuminating Company flipped the switch on his power station on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan, providing electricity to homes at a price comparable to gas. By the end of the month, they had 59 customers. By the next year, they had 513. […]